Harry Ironside Collection: Ironside, Harry A. - Notes on the Gospel of John: 35-The Resurrection and the Life -- Joh_11:1-46

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Harry Ironside Collection: Ironside, Harry A. - Notes on the Gospel of John: 35-The Resurrection and the Life -- Joh_11:1-46



TOPIC: Ironside, Harry A. - Notes on the Gospel of John (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 35-The Resurrection and the Life -- Joh_11:1-46

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The Resurrection and the Life -- Joh_11:1-46



Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.



The main theme of this eleventh chapter is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In Rom_1:4 we are told that our Lord Jesus Christ is “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead.” That is the way the sentence reads in our Authorized Version. Greek scholars have pointed out the fact that the word for “dead” there is actually in the plural. We might think that the passage simply meant that the Lord was declared to be the Son with power by His own resurrection from the dead. But the passage might better be translated “through the resurrection of dead persons.” That includes, of course, His own triumph over death, but it takes in also those other raisings from the dead of which we read in the Gospels. Three times our Lord exerted this marvelous resurrection power, and the three cases are all different and each, I think, very significant.



In the first instance we have the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue at Capernaum. That was a little child who had died. The Lord Jesus went into the room where she lay, and He said to her so tenderly, “Little one, arise,” and she arose (see Mar_5:41). He awakened her from the sleep of death. That may suggest our Lord’s gracious way of dealing with children who are dead in trespasses and sins, and who need to hear His voice as truly as older ones today.



And then we have the instance of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. The Lord Jesus and His apostles were approaching the village when out came that sad funeral group bearing the dead body of this young man, and his poor mother following. The Lord Jesus stopped that funeral procession, touched the bier, and said to the young man, “I say unto thee, Arise” (Luk_7:14). We read that “he that was dead sat up… And [Jesus] delivered him to his mother” (Luk_7:15). That again, I think, has a spiritual lesson. Many a young man, dead in trespasses and sins, or possibly a young woman, is causing grief to a godly father and mother. Oh, how that mother and father are yearning for the time when the hand of Jesus will be placed upon those dear ones, raising them to life everlasting! Mr. Moody once said, “It is a peculiar thing, you cannot get any instruction in the Bible as to how to conduct a funeral, for Jesus broke up every funeral He ever attended by raising the dead.”



Now the third instance is that which is before us, the raising of Lazarus. Here may I say we have a picture of one who has spent years in sin, and is utterly corrupt and beyond all human hope. Yet Jesus came and raised Lazarus from the dead after four days had gone by. Let us consider this passage somewhat carefully.



We are told, “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha” (Joh_11:1). That is interesting, is it not? I am sure there were a great many other people living in Bethany. But to the Lord who looked down upon that city, to God Himself, it was the town of Mary and Martha. What does that mean? There were two devoted hearts there, and that meant more to God than all the other people who lived in that village. I wonder about your community. Are you so devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, so living for the glory of God, that He thinks of your community as the particular place where you live? Does He pass by the rich and great, the powerful and noted, from a worldly standpoint, and say of you, “That is one of My friends, who loves Me,” and, therefore, thinks of it as your town or your locality?



I think that this is most significant. “Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (Joh_11:1-2). And so the sisters, when they saw their brother drooping and dying, sent a message to the Lord Jesus, who was some distance away. He was at Bethabara, near to what is now called Allenby’s Bridge. Ordinarily, it would have taken two full days to come from there to Bethany, or perhaps three days if walking and two if riding.



And so they sent a message. And how brief it was: “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (Joh_11:3). They felt that was enough. They knew He loved Lazarus. They knew their brother was very dear to His heart, and they felt sure that if Jesus understood that he was ill He would come immediately and cure the disease and save the life of His friend.



But singularly enough, He said when He heard it, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (Joh_11:4). That is, death is not going to claim and keep this man at the present time, but God is going to be glorified in some wondrous way in his particular case. So there was no hurry on the part of Jesus. That is so trying for us who profess faith in Him. When we come presenting some problem we hope that He will intervene immediately and answer our prayer in the way we would like to have Him do it without any delay. But often He seems to wait so long and apparently appears to be so indifferent. He is never indifferent; He is always interested. And we may be sure of this: if He permits delay in the answer to prayer, it is because there is some plan that He desires to work out in connection with that answer. It should be ours to wait in faith for Him to act. You know Scripture speaks of waiting on God and waiting for God. It is a wonderful thing to learn to wait on God. We may come to Him in every time of difficulty and perplexity in accordance with His Word, which says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php_4:6-7). “My soul,” says David, “wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.”



But then it requires even more faith to wait for God. After you have presented your petition to God, just leave everything in His hands, assured that in His own good time, He will act in the way that is best.



These sisters, I fancy, watched for the Lord every moment after they thought the message had had time to reach Him, but hour after hour went by, even day after day, and still Jesus did not come. And then Lazarus passed away. They must have said, “How strange it is! Not a word from Jesus, not a message of any kind! And He is not here, and He could easily have hindered all this, but He has not come.” Did it mean He was not interested, that He did not love Lazarus, and was not concerned about their breaking hearts? Not at all. But they were going to learn lessons that they would never have learned in any other way.



We are told that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again” (Joh_11:5-7). He had been bitterly persecuted in Judea, and the disciples would rather have had Him turn His face northward and go back where the people heard Him gladly. When He spoke of returning to Judea, they said, “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (Joh_11:8). But “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him” (Joh_11:9-10).



He meant this, “I know what My path should be. The Father has made it perfectly clear to Me where I should go, and in returning to Judea I am walking in the light that shines upon My steps.” Then He adds, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (Joh_11:11). After all, this is what death is for the believer. It is just a sleep. “Oh,” you say, “the entire man, spirit, soul, and body?” Oh, no, but the sleep of the poor, tired body. The spirit and soul, which are never separated in life or death, the unseen man is absent from the body and present with the Lord. But alas, in the case of the unsaved, when the body dies, the spirit goes out to meet God in judgment for the rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb_9:27). But for the believer death is a sleep, the sleep of the body until the hour of the resurrection.



So Jesus says, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well” (Joh_11:11-12). They thought He meant physical sleep and so He had to meet them on their own ground. In the next verse we read, “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him” (Joh_11:14-15). They were to learn a wonderful lesson from all this. This thing was to be a great blessing to them. It was to be a means of establishing their faith in a way which the healing of Lazarus could not have done.



“Nevertheless let us go unto him.” And then Thomas speaks up. We call him “doubting Thomas” sometimes, and yet I do not know that he always deserved to be so spoken of. “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus” (Joh_11:16 a). Didymus means “twin.” I wonder who the other twin was. Perhaps if you look into the mirror you will see the other one. Thomas, the twin, said “unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him” (Joh_11:16 b). As much as to say, “Well, we cannot save His life even if we want to, so let us stand by Him. We will go down and die with Him.” Thomas was loyal to his Master, even when he could not understand.



So Jesus came with the disciples and when they came near Bethany they found that Lazarus had been in the grave four days already. “And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (Joh_11:19-21). Was she really blaming the Lord Jesus for her brother’s death? It at least implies the question, “Why did You not come when we first sent for You? Then we would not be mourning for our brother.” “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee” (Joh_11:22). I think she meant that they would be able to receive strength in their hour of trial. But Jesus said to her, “Thy brother shall rise again” (Joh_11:23). And Martha said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Joh_11:24). And that is what many people think, that in the last day saved and unsaved will all be raised.



But Jesus had a sweeter message than that for her. He said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Joh_11:25-26).



What is He telling her? Oh, He is telling her, “You do not have to wait until the resurrection on the last day. I Myself am the Resurrection and the Life, and when I come into the scene, death is at an end.” And He adds, “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” When will that be? At His own return from heaven, when He shall descend with a shout and empty all the graves where lie the Christian dead. “[Whosoever] believeth in he, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Then He looks on to the time when those who have never died at all, but will be living on the earth when He returns, will be changed without dying and says, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” What a wonderful revelation! And then He puts the question, “Believest thou this?”



I think she was a bit puzzled. She said, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (Joh_11:27). And therefore, of course, she implies, “Whatever You say must be true.” Whether she could understand it or not, it must be true, for it came from the One she recognized as the Son of God.



She went and called her sister. Mary met with them outside the town. The Jews saw her leave and said, “She goeth unto the grave to weep there” (Joh_11:31). But, no, on the way out she met Jesus, and she said to Him also what Martha had said. But I wonder if there was not a different tone than what Martha had used. “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (Joh_11:32). Jesus looked upon her in her grief, and His heart went out to her. The Jews who had followed behind were weeping, and Jesus groaned in the spirit and was troubled. He was a real man. It was not merely Deity inhabiting a human body, but He had a true human spirit and soul as well as a human body. And so He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.



And He said, “Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see” (Joh_11:34).



And now we have the shortest verse in our English Bible. Literally translated it is “Jesus shed tears” (Joh_11:35). Tears, as He contemplated the awful ravages that death had wrought because of sin. “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it” (Joh_11:36-38). It was a singular thing. I always thought of it as a cave in the side of the hill, as in the case of the tomb where our Lord Jesus Christ was buried, until I was in Bethany and saw a similar tomb. You went down into the cave and a stone lay over it. And thus it was here. The stone lay over the tomb.



“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (Joh_11:39). Her faith did not rise to the glorious thing that was about to take place. “Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (Joh_11:40). Faith triumphs over all conditions, depending upon the living God.



“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (Joh_11:41). What sweet communion this, between the Father and the Son! “And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (Joh_11:42). He prayed in this way that they might be edified by His prayer, that they might believe. “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!” (Joh_11:43). Oh, that voice of power some day will be heard, and all the dead in Christ will come forth. That day in Bethany He singled out one person. If He had left out the word Lazarus He would have emptied the whole cemetery! But He said, “Lazarus, come forth! And he that was dead came forth” (Joh_11:43-44 a). And it says he was “bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin” (Joh_11:44 b). That was the way the Jews buried their dead. They wrapped them completely in linen cloths.



“Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (Joh_11:44 c). There is a lesson here too-life first, and then liberty. All who hear the voice of Christ have life- “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (Joh_3:36). But many a believer does not yet know liberty. Many are still bound by the grave clothes of tradition, or misunderstanding, or unbelief. Oh, how wonderful when Jesus says, “Loose him and let him go.” “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Joh_8:32).



So Lazarus was raised and loosed. “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done” (Joh_11:45-46). It would almost seem that they were His enemies, and that they reported these things, seeking to stir up the Pharisees against Him.



Satan is the one who has the power of death, and by sin came death. Jesus is the One who has power to deliver from sin and from death itself. I wonder if we have all trusted Him. He is declared to be the Son of God with power by resurrection of dead persons. He is still the same, and He delights to impart life to all who hear His voice.